We rarely watch movies, and when we do it is normally through either iTunes or Netflix. It is exceptionally difficult to find new movies on their websites or applications as they mix in the movies that are new to their service - which might be from the 1980s and not new at all.
Netflix has a better web interface than iTunes. The latter has tiny thumbnails of the movie when you are searching which is useless. It is like Zappos which gives as much space to a text description of the shoe as they do a picture of the shoe itself. Victoria Secret does that style of web selling much better by having large pictures of the clothes in the search.
Consequently it is very difficult to find a movie to watch quickly when you are browsing in 'what should we watch' mode. It is ok if you know what you want to see, a quick search will most likely find it, but trying to browse like you would in an old brick and mortar Video Rental Store is almost impossible.
We don't have a TV but we watch DVDs from Netflix or movies from iTunes every now and then - though we will often watch a movie over a month as we get the time. While adding to the DVD queue last night we noticed that Spartacus - presumably a Starz TV series - was on play now for Netflix. We haven't used that before and I assumed it would be like youtube. However it started out with a download for SilverLight.
Given that we use a Macbook with Firefox as a main mechanism of interacting with the internet the first thought that went through my head was, "uh oh". SilverLight came down as a .dmg and installed happily. I may regret it later, being Microsoft and all, and their history for ruining platforms, but the movie played without skipping or buffering issues as a full screen viewing on the Firefox/OSX.
I must admit I was surprised at how slick it was.
Update I am guessing the show was done in Australia or New Zealand as the Thracians sounded like Australians making a bad attempt at sounding British. It was almost comical. Plus it has Lucy Lawless in it, so it mist be done in New Zealand. The show seemed to be a rock opera too. Not sure why they chose that technique to tell the story.
UpdateWho was the real Spartacus? The Spartacus from history.
With Spartacus Blood and Sand appearing on Starz and Netflix as a 300ish fantasy, drama, adventure that is very entertaining, I realized I knew nothing about the historical Spartacus. At the local book store was the Spartacus War by Barry Strauss which is probably selling well now courtesy of the series.
Spartacus was a Thracian who served in the Roman Auxiliary. This were barbarian units that served alongside the Roman heavy and light infantry. Since the Romans were not good horsemen, the barbarian auxiliary tended to be cavalry. So it was likely that Spartacus was a noble cavalryman from Thracia (modern day Bulgaria).
His reason for being sold into slavery according to one source was because he was a deserter that chose thievery, banditry or even a guerilla fighter rather than service in the auxilia. He was captured and the result was that he ended up in Rome in the slave markets.
Spartacus lived in a ludus or gladitorial school owned by Gnaeus Cornelius Lentalus Vatia, though Vatia appears as Batiatus in one source. The owner of the ludus (dominus in the tv series) was most likely an absentee owner and lived in Rome rather than in the ludus itself.
The story of Spartacus includes a Thracian woman whose name is unknown in history. She lived with Spartacus during his time in the ludus and even escaped with him from slavery during the uprising. She is cast in history as a seer and saw in Spartacus the divine and cast prophecy of his future.
Spartacus ended up leading a large slave army of Thracians, Gauls and Germans. They originally camped on Mt Vesuvius and looted from the surrounding plains. The other interesting thing was that Spartacus' generals were Crixus the Gaul and Oenomaus (doctori in the series). Together the defeated several Roman Armies that were raised to put the revolt down. Including one led by Caius Claudius Glaber which Spartacus solidly defeated.
In the end Crassus - the richest man in Rome - came into the picture and destroyed Spartacus' army over a six month period. Pompey also enters the picture at this team and wiped out a small left over band of 5,000 slaves from Spartacus' army after having returned from Spain.
The denial screen we got when we tried to watch Netflix in Australia. I think it determined our account was an American one and wouldn't allow us to watch anything in Australia.
The same thing happened with iTunes. I tried to download the reader app from the iTunes store for the iPad so we could load up with reading material for the flight back but it would not let me download anything from the American credit card when we had an Australian IP.
Bruce Sterling noted that the way people are living is putting stress on the nation-states. It is also putting stress on the arbitrary economic divisions around the nation-states in what is an increasingly global market.
Try buying something 'American' for your Australian nephews. It is impossible, they have access to the same goods, from the same factories, just sold in stores with different or with different postage rates. Bruce Sterling commented;
Rather than "thinking globally and acting locally," as in the old futurist theme, I now live and think glocally. I once had a stable, settled life within a single city, state and nation. Nowadays, I divide my time between three different polities: the United States, the European Union and the Balkans. With various junkets elsewhere.
The 400-year-old Westphalian System doesn't approve of my lifestyle, although it's increasingly common, especially among people half my age. It's stressful to live glocally. Not that I myself feel stressed by this. As long as I've got broadband, I'm perfectly at ease with the fact that my position on the planet's surface is arbitrary. It's the nation-state system that is visibly stressed by these changes - it's freaking out over currency flows, migration through airports, offshoring, and similar phenomena.
The middle man media industry survives courtesy of legislated monopolies that vary from country to country, though American Free Trade Agreements are doing a lot to homogenize that. These are all done under the auspices of 'intellectual property'.
Because of this arbitrary division, the political boundaries are determining if I can watch Dexter or Spartacus when I want to, not my ability to pay, or my willingness to give Netflix or Apple money. This was rammed home when we wanted to watch media in the same way we normally do in America while we were in Australia.
We were disappointed to say the least, and to us, the people who wanted to pay or have already payed, it seemed stupid and ridiculous. It is of course stupid and ridiculous. But there are few enough people moving around between nation-states and being disappointed that the temporary convenience is forgotten and nation-states and middle man media can get away with it.
Phoenix Eats Out is the restaurant review site for Phoenix, Scottsdale and Old Town Scottsdale which lists the modernist and contemporary restaurants, taverns and bars in the greater Phoenix area.
This is the list of the most popular restaurants pages from phoenixeatsout.com that have been viewed the most;
Arizona is an outdoor state and has lots of hiking in the city and around the state. Phoenix is unusual for most cities in having several large mountains in the center of the city with great hiking. Anyone who comes to Phoenix has to do the Echo Canyon trail on Camelback and the Summit Hike on Squaw Peak or Piesta Peak. The views of the city, suburbs and surrounding mountains are wonderful from Camelback and Piesta Peak.
For more experienced hikers there is the McDowell Mountains in North Scottsdale that has several difficult and strenuous hikes in Tom's Thumb and Bell Pass. Alternatively, you can hike the highest mountain in Arizona. At 12,600 feet Humphrey's Peak is a long and difficult hike.
Alternate Australian Constitutions
Between 2004 and 2009 this site, southsearepublic.org, was a constitutional blog based on scoop which focused on Australian and global constitutional issues.
One of the strongest aspects of it was the development of constitutions by those involved in the blog. These constitutions are the outcome:
I am an Australian living in the United States as a permanent resident.
I am a software developer by trade and mostly work in Java and jump between middleware and front end.
I originally worked in the New York area of the United States in telecommunications before moving to Washington DC and
working in a mix of telecommunications, energy and ITS. I started my own software company before heading out to
Arizona and working with Shutterfly. Since then I have joined a startup in the Phoenix area and am thoroughly enjoying myself.
I do a lot of photography which I post on this website, but also on flickr. I have a photo-journalistic website which lists
the modernist and contemporary restaurants in phoenix. I have a site on the Australian Flying Corps [AFC] which has been around since the 1990s and which I unfortunately
lost the .org URL to during a life event; however, it is under the www.australianflyingcorps.com URL now.
The AFC website has gone through several iterations since the 90s and the two most recent are Australian Flying Corps Archives(2004-2002) and
Australian Flying Corps Archives(2002-1999) which are good places to start.